EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

May 18, 2013

Private law firm makes pitch of services to Methuen council

No date set for City Solicitor McQuillan's departure

METHUEN — The search is underway for a private law firm to assume the duties of outgoing City Solicitor Peter McQuillan, with one Boston firm already offering legal services to the City Council for $175 per hour.

With McQuillan expected to step down amid controversy later this month, the council may hire a private firm in his place until a permanent successor is named. Chairman Sean Fountain said the council will interview multiple firms before making a decision.

Councilors on Thursday heard a 20-minute presentation from municipal law firm Kopelman and Paige, whose area clients include the cities of Newburyport and Amesbury and towns of Georgetown and Groveland.

Firm representatives Len Kopelman and Mark Reich told councilors that Kopelman and Paige would provide legal services to the city for $175 per hour and attend all regular City Council meetings for a flat $200-per-meeting fee. No contract would be required, they said.

Reich, a North Andover resident, said the firm can start working for Methuen immediately.

“Each of our clients — each of our cities, each of our towns — has a single point of contact,” said Reich. “A single person that you can rely on as your counsel. And in this case that would be me. I’d be available 24/7. I’ve got my cell phone with me day and night.”

In addition to support staff, Reich said Kopelman and Paige employs 48 lawyers, including specialists with litigation, elections, construction, public health, land use, environmental and green energy issues and Open Meeting Law and public records compliance.

“Behind me are 50 attorneys with varying specialties,” said Reich. “You call me. I make sure you get the right person. I can put you in touch with that person, or you can run all your issues through me. We develop the process (together).”

When City Councilor Jennifer Kannan asked if Reich had civil litigation experience, Reich responded by saying he has “argued cases all the way through the Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts and in federal courts.”

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